A volunteer and an engineer Ruslan Yarynko with his team at the TechnoPark independent construction сompany has developed a new piece of protective gear for the Ukrainian army – a ballistic mask codenamed “Cyborg” designed for protecting the fighter’s face and throat from incoming bullets and shrapnel.
It took almost nine month to develop this piece of hi-tech military equipment, but finally the mask was finished and lab-tested positively, and is now being represented to the Ministry of Defence for its approval and further field testings.
The mask is made with hard kevlar-like bulletproof material and is designed to withhold small arms rounds and shrapnel fragments in combat. So far the newest model of this protective headwear withstands armor-piercing 9mm rounds, grenade shells and highly potent explosives like TNT. Equipped with good quality ballistic goggles and a kevlar helmet, the mask makes a fighters face really protected against impact. And even though it looks bulky, the mask does not reduce its wearer’s vision in any way and is relatively light and easy to wear.
The “Cyborg” mask, however, is not intended as a standard piece of everyday equipment. So far the creators of the mask had designed it to be used in close corner combats within cities and inside buildings when fighters may face booby trapped rooms and streets, engage in firefights from small distance and similar dangerous environments. It would be used by the special forces teams entering buildings, storming teams, road block guard teams and anyone fighting in highly dangerous conditions.
As the gunpowder era has made body armor impractical and useless for a while in human history, it looks as if today, with harder materials and better technologies it may very well make a comeback into combat, as we can observe in case of ballistic masks.
Of course, the idea of a bullet proof full face helmet is not new, nor was it invented recently. Though ballistic masks today are being widely adapted by special forces all over the world, and especially bomb technicians and various bomb squads, who have to literally face the danger from close distances, first attempts of such full head bulletproof helmets date back to World War 1, and one of the infamous examples of the successful, though malevolent, usages of such head gear dates back to the 19th century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, who have used a hard iron home made medieval-style bucket helmet and body armor for his crimes, so the idea is almost as old as the gun battles themselves.
But today, when most of the soldier’s body can be protected with light yet extremely firm materials like kevlar, the idea of body armor making comeback seems not that bizarre at all. Statistics say that most of the wounds in the Ukrainian war today are to the face and jaw, since other parts of soldier’s body today are well protected, but the face and the jaw often remain open and are offered no protection. This leaves a large entrance for all sorts of damage to the soldier’s head even if he or she has a hard kevlar helmet on. The “Cyborg” mask, if further developed, may reduce this risk to a minimum.
Besides, the Ukrainian-made gear is almost four times cheaper than the imported analogues: it only costs 3000 hryvnias (129 US dollars), which makes the mask economically practical and affordable for a wider amount of military personnel.
The creators of the mask has been very opened and public about their efforts all the way through the development of the mask. The TechnoPark construction team has launched its own YouTube channel in the late 2014 where they are demonstrating further testings of the mask and its abilities to withstand all kinds of impact. The mask has also been given its own Facebook page as well as Google+ page, where the public is informed about further developments of the mask, field testings and soldiers latest experiences with this kind of protection.
Notably, several volunteer battalions are already using the “Cyborg” masks, and give mostly positive reviews to it. One of the TechnoPark previous developments, and all-Ukrainian made bulletproof west, has already been adapted by the Ukrainian army, and saved thousands of Ukrainian soldiers lives.